Choking on Midtown smog this afternoon, I suddenly and almost involuntarily began reciting to myself lines of the following fable—a fable my mother would sing as she rocked me to sleep among the haystacks and chiming crickets of the family farm. My memory is not perfect, and certain lines recollected here may be spurious, but I’ve reconstructed the piece as best I can; the original source of the tale remains unknown. If only the fables of childhood would not lie dormant in us for so long!


Once in a little country town
A little horsey neighed.
He clomped his hooves upon the ground—
The hooves that God had made.

He galloped to the local store
To buy his horsey grain,
He used a rude and broad-toothed comb
To comb his horsey mane.

His was a happy horsey life,
His quick hooves won him fame,
He raced the town, he horsed around,
He had a horsey dame.

But one day in the local store
(There’s always grain to buy)
A horse’s grooming magazine
Amazed his horsey eye.

Its cover showed a black horseshoe
On some young horsey buck:
“All Horsies Must Have Them,” it read,
“They Even Bring Good Luck!”

And straightaway he galloped off
With horseshoe visions bright.
He galloped toward the city gates,
He galloped all the night.

He thought of bridled city mares
And how he’d chase them down,
He thought of all night horsey clubs;
He cursed his little town.

He galloped till the sun came up,
He had no time to lose,
He made it through the gates and neighed:
“O give me horsey shoes!”

They led him to the horseshoe shop,
They drove the nails straight clear,
He chomped the bit to brace his pain,
But could not brace a tear.

He trotted off with  head held high,
though limping just a bit,
He rushed into a horsey club,
Ready to conquer it.

But when he took his horsey stall,
He thought, I must be daft!
No bridled mares would glance at him,
The ones who did but laughed.

He neighed to all “What’s wrong with you?
It doesn’t stand to reason!”
“You horsey fool,” they all replied,
“Those horseshoes are last season!”

He went away into the night,
The harsh city lights shone.
He knew now that this city life
Would be a lonely one.

He did not leave the city, though,
Despite his small renown.
He told himself he liked it fine,
Better at least than town.

And when he was alone at night,
He doffed his shoes, and neighed,
And clomped his hooves upon the ground—
The hooves that God had made.